Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Poetry of Today

Review by Anthony Servante 

Let’s discuss the premise before looking at the words. It is an axiom in academic writing that poetry must speak for itself. A writer cannot interpret meaning for the reader, giving insight to his own words as if they required his presence to clarify the work’s intents. The poem must stand up to the scrutiny of the reader alone. With this axiom in mind, we proceed by William Cook.


William Cook joins the Modernism School of Poetry. From Wiki: “For the modernists, it was essential to move away from the merely personal towards an intellectual statement that poetry could make about the world.” Thus William combines a writing style of prose and poetry to weave an intellectual tapestry, slipping his words in and out of subjective and objective observations, pulling and pushing the reader to envision the completed tapestry while savoring the in’s and out’s of the words themselves, much as we watch a movie without thinking about the camera work or actor interpretations of the screenplay. As Peter Gabriel points out in The Cinema Show regarding the use of cosmetics: “Concealing to reveal.”

Let’s consider the “The edge of the night” from MOMENT OF FREEDOM: Selected Poetry. First off, two notes: the title Moment of Freedom is ironic in that the title indirectly states, a lifetime of slavery to the “moment of freedom”, much as the term “a cloudless clim” from Lord Byron, must incorporate “cloud” to denote an empty sky: an image to convey emptiness rather than simply using the unpoetic “empty” to state such. Second, the poem’s title capitalizes the article but not the noun or prepositional phrase, combining poetic license with standard grammatical rule (namely “The”, the first word in the line, must be capitalized). The intellectualizing has begun; William flaunts the world’s rules by obeying them as he pleases, this, a moment of freedom.

To the work:

The edge of the night


A table spread in a tomb, dinner for the dead

the dead! Why did you pay a visit to my eyes last night?

Night is the time for angels of dreams

we who, each of us, will one day return

to our hungry mother the grave. The darkness comes

from knowing nothing is ours, except death

takes bites out of my heart. O Asclepius pupil

teacher Chiron, please bring medicine

to my dead love, and I forever understudy

will attempt some sort of attainment

to wake with a sore splitting back from the cold floor

in borrowed clothes and eyes, lent by a saint

giving at the same time an encompassing embrace

‘Friend,’ is all he said in tears, heart big enough to feed

this dead world. To wake up and see the sun

if not the glare from beyond, glittering

on broken glass, beside stretched roadside

where some had sprayed symbolic worlds and signs

scars full of flowers – to wake is to see

again this unusual world, whose secret cannot be known

until we enter the sky, or the earth

takes the edge off the night, the memory of your smile


Judging this town of sleep, I found it had already been judged

the Lord on his axe-cut cross of cypress

he is an incurable domestic bore

a family man, who never swore a word

an only child with a hollow mother

full with the carved cares of a household

wearing his poverty as a coat of arms

for eyes to look upon that beheld no bravura of vision.

The crisp grass rattles and shakes ripely, dryly

and all of this in fidelity to death

it was the same old same old, the hard husk of the ego

won’t ever resolve, yet grinds down hard internally

into the swirl, the wine bitter-soaked seed

labouring lie -- vice is kindled, burned in loins that melt

peculiar smiles alive, of all hope

has gone to explore the forlorn desert all alone

far away from the security of grim towns

where a girl is safe searching numbly in the comfort of fear.

You have gone or strayed away, never to be found

I sit and hear sour hiss of traffic calling

this burned and gutted ghost, vague semblance of time

on and off like one long sick light-switch

electric dream/confused state of everyone

greedy for dead love, drain her life, her soul

from every side for me. Greatest dribbling cannibal

tired Bolshie future, sleep . . . with disease.


Torn in two, I stand between, the idol and the grave

I do not know anything, I do not know. I do not

of this world, know anything – nor do I want to

but I have misled the past and will do so again

bring the teachers to the fore, let them stand

and be accounted as emperors of their own disease

and demise. As the sky claps the earth -- wrings blood

from all rocks and far away I fly, every day

from the storm in the brain. The science of the mind

corroded the body, blinded every mile I ever burnt

in this life and the next if there ever were such a thing.

To discuss William’s deliberate misuse of grammar would be folly as it is part of the pursuit to reach the reader. Note also his use of metaphor and litotes. To say simply: “a corpse” is not in his vocabulary; he metaphorically says “dinner” and the diner, death (“the dead!”). Knowledge is life, and life is accepting death: “The darkness comes from knowing nothing is ours, except death….” The first slip into litotes comes from a shift into prose from the metaphor: “…to wake with a sore splitting back from the cold floor in borrowed clothes and eyes…” and with the “borrowed…eyes” shifts back to poetry and metaphor. These are very aesthetic acrobatics. 

Furthermore, in the line “To wake up and see the sun if not the glare from beyond” we see additional shifts with the sun at once literal and figurative (as that solar body we find upon waking and as a metaphor for the afterlife). William maintains the balance between shifts throughout the work and ultimately “time” becomes a “cannibal” eating us as we sleep and wake, with varying degrees of metaphoric intents. Thus, the final line of Part II captures this fatality of cannibalism of the self as William becomes the “I” of the poem and states the thesis with the “if”, bringing together the personal and the intellectual in Part III: “The science of the mind corroded the body, blinded every mile I ever burnt in this life and the next if there ever were such a thing.”

A work in three parts, “The edge of the night” is representative of the poetry throughout MOMENT OF FREEDOM. Think of the book as a complete poem with each individual poem making up the whole. I do not recommend jumping around reading individual works, but rather beginning to end, as one would read James Joyce’s Ulysses or William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. It is a work worthy to be mentioned with these modernist authors.

William Cook

William Cook is a writer of the macabre from New Zealand, a small antipodean island group in the South Pacific. When not writing, he looks after two small daughters and designs book covers that are designed to scare the hell out of people. 

He can be reached at:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Beauty and Brains: Stacey Nelkin Interview

by Anthony Servante

 Stacey still sexy today

Timeless Beauty

We welcome Stacey Nelkin to the Darkness this month. Stacey is best known by Horror fans for her role in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, in which she stars with Tom Atkins (My Bloody Valentine) and Dan O’Herlihy (RoboCop), a film directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (Stephen King’s It, Fright Night II, Vampires: Los Muertos).

Before her role in this B-Horror Classic, "she starred as Bonnie Sue Chisholm in four 1979 episodes of the CBS western miniseries The Chisholms. When the series resumed in 1980, [she turned down the role because she wanted to do films and the part was recast with] Delta Burke in the role of Bonnie Sue.  She became well known for her role in the 1982 horror film Halloween III: Season of the Witch as Ellie Grimbridge. The same year (1982) Nelkin was scheduled to appear in the cult film Blade Runner as Mary, a sixth Nexus-6 replicant that escapes from "off-world" and comes to Earth, but budget cuts resulted in her part being cut from the film early on in principal photography. She had done a screen test for the role of Pris in Blade Runner as well, but Daryl Hannah got the part instead. Nelkin's screen test appears on Disc 4 of the collector's edition DVD set. Nelkin has made guest appearances in several TV series, including CHiPs, The A-Team, Eight Is Enough, 1st & Ten and Hunter. Her best-known TV role is on the soap opera Generations as Christy Russell in 1990" (Wiki).

Stacey also founded the The Daily Affair Blog, where she educates couples about making relationships work. Visit here:

She has co-authored "You Can't Afford to Break Up: How an Empty Wallet and a Dirty Mind Can Save Your Relationship", a practical guide in love economics for keeping romance alive in relationships.

Her relationships and marriages with A-List celebrities are well-documented on the internet, but you can look that up for yourself.

Let's get to the interview.

Anthony: It a pleasure having you with us, Stacy.
Stacy: The pleasure is all mine - except I hate typing - I'd much rather talk!

Anthony: Let’s start with your early days in film. Can you share with our readers how you got into film and some of your early roles?
Stacey: I fell in love with acting when was in the Brownies. I lost the lead role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz to the troop leader's daughter. True story. I played the Tin Man. My first intro to nepotism - something upon which Hollywood thrives..I got an agent when I was 14 and got my first role at 16. My first film was 'Annie Hall" . I was cut from the film but went on to many others.

How did this get in here?

Anthony: Did your brush with a role in Blade Runner whet your appetite to star in Science Fiction or Horror films? (By the way, I think you would have made a very sexy android).
Stacey: Not being able to actually shoot my part in The Blade Runner was heartbreaking. But getting to rehearse and hang out on the set with Ridley, Harrison, Darryl, and Rutger was amazing.

Stacey Nelkin as the replicant Mary

A re imagining of the role of Mary

Anthony: Can you give us some background on getting the role for Halloween III?
Stacey: Ron Walters, the makeup artist for the film had just worked with me and he knew that they hadn't found a girl to play the role of Ellie and he suggested I audition. I read for the part and they called to tell me I had the part by the time I was back home from the audition.

Stacey's role in Halloween III has made her an icon
with Horror fans

Anthony: What was it like for you as an actress working with Tommy Lee Wallace and John Carpenter?
Stacey: Tommy Lee was a generous, easy going director who was always open to collaboration. He's a musician and has a musician's mellow temperament, I never got to work with John C...

Stacey as Ellie

Anthony: What came after Halloween III for Stacey Nelkin?
Stacey: After Halloween III, I did Get Crazy and then Yellowbeard and then tons of TV..

Stacey with Eric Idle in Yellowbeard

Yellowbeard is a 1983 comedy film by Graham Chapman, along with Peter Cook, Bernard McKenna and David Sherlock. It was directed by Mel Damski, and was Marty Feldman's last film appearance.

Anthony: In the genre of Horror, do you have any favorite TV shows, books or films? (If not, what are your favorite shows, books or films?)
Stacey: I used to watch Creature Feature when I was a young girl and saw all of those scary movies like The Fly and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. The Exorcist really did me in - I couldn't sleep for 3 weeks after seeing it without having nightmares...

The stuff nightmares are made of.

Anthony: Are you working on anything right now that you can share with us?
Stacey: Right now I'm working on being a mother to my 3 children ages 14, 12 and 8 -and our 2 rescue dogs and 2 crazy f-ing cats.
Oh, and I write posts for the Huffington Post about marriage and divorce and go on the Bill Cunningham Show as a relationship expert. I'm also getting certified as a Drama Therapist at the New School in NYC.

Click here to read Nelkin's Huffington Post entries (Stacey's interview on CBS 2 Eye on New York)

Anthony: I could see you starring in American Horror Story, the FX TV series. Would you like to get back to Horror roles again?
Stacey: I'd like to get back in ANY roles, honestly.

[Aside from Anthony Servante: Hey, Readers, visit the link below to recommend Stacey Nelkin for a future season of American Horror Story; she'd be a natural.]

Anthony: Are there any conventions where you’ll be soon?
Stacey: I'll let you know when I'll be at the next one. I love attending them and getting to meet all the fans. Horror fans are quite special!!

Tom Adkins and Stacey sandwich a fan

It’s been a pleasure having Stacey Nelkin here this month. On a final note, "Stacey Nelkin, 53, has been dubbed “the Sexiest Actress Alive” by Glamour's magazine in its April 2013 issue out this week."

Till next time, dear readers, this is your Servante of Darkness.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What Legends are Made of:

The Steve Scorfina Interview

Conducted by Anthony Servante

Steve Scorfina

Known as the Founder of REO SPEEDWAGON and PAVLOV’S DOG, Steve Scorfina has come a long way. In 2009, the documentary OLD DOG, NEW TRICK follows Steve in his early years helping to form the roots for Alternative Rock and strengthen the growing Progressive Rock movement of the early 70s to the latest tour of his new group Soul Steel: Steve joins us here to share his wealth of rock history and tell his personal story and how it has led him to the Blues, the music that drives his band today. He has seen the highs and lows of a Rock and Roll career and lifestyle and has overcome personal demons and devils inherent in the music business and is ready to share his journals with us. In addition, Steve will provide a Top Ten List of Songs Most Representative of his career to date.

Check out the Band Profile hereScorfina's Soul Steel | Band Profile

So, let's get to that interview. 

Anthony: . It is an honor having Steve Scorfina on the Servante of Darkness Blog. Thank you for joining us, 
Steve: Thanks for keeping the Flame Burning my Rock and Roll friend. 

Anthony: Where does the Steve Scorfina story begin? What led you to rock and roll?

1969-1971: Steve's years with the band

Jamming! Pavlov's Dog 1976

Steve: The baby in the clown suit is my son Jon, I'm his biggest fan.

Steve: [Jon] produced the movie OLD DOG NEW TRICK on my musical journey.

Steve: I would think my story is like most other guitar players. What is unique about my story is where I was born and raised, St. Louis, Missouri USA. I consider St. Louis to be Ground Zero to Rock and Roll. The one and most important name credited to the creation of Rock and Roll is Chuck Berry (whom is being inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year). In addition, Ike Turner, who is credited with writing the first Rock and Roll record (Rocket 88) was also a home town boy that I could hear live on any given night.

When I was in my late teens, I became friends with two brothers from North St. Louis, Michael and Leon O’Hara and we formed a band called the Spoon River band. Michael and Leon’s father was a Black gospel minister and Michael was in charge of the choir where I wound up being the only white guy playing in a black gospel church. Leon was married to Melody Berry one of Chuck's beautiful daughters and we soon became a favorite Act at Berry Park. Chuck had bought a lot of property right outside of Wentzville and built a beautiful compound with a night club, swimming pool, cabins and a big house. We would be playing there and people like Bo Didley and Muddy Waters would show up. Not to mention that Chuck himself would come out and play with us. 

Let me try to get back on track, the question was what led you to Rock and Roll, I and the answer is ELVIS. I saw Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show singing “You Aint Nothing But A Hound Dog” and the next morning I got up and asked my Dad, if he would get me a guitar for Christmas. Seeing and hearing Elvis changed everything. I wanted to be like him, he was the King. Years later in 1971 I recorded a record called (One More Hallelujah by John Hurley) with Elvis’s rhythm section James Burton, Ronnie Tutt and Gerry Sheff.  James liked my guitar playing and when we finished the recording he asked me if I would like to play in Elvis’s band. He told me Elvis had an old army buddy that was playing rhythm guitar and he would show up drunk, high and mess up every night. James being the band leader wanted to fire him. I told him tell me were to show up and I will be there. Unfortunately for me, Elvis was loyal to his old army buddy and wouldn't fire him. I did come close to being on stage with the King. What an honor, just to be asked!

The King of Rock and Roll: Elvis Presley

Steve: This is a song I recorded with Elvis Presley's band in 1970

Steve: Here is another song from the John Hurley record I played on =^.^=

Here is a Blog I wrote when MySpace first came on the scene a few years ago. That tells the story in a different way. I was a shy introverted 13 year old kid in 1963. Until one Sunday, I saw Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show. From that moment on I knew I had to play music. I begged my father to buy me a guitar. After a while he gave in and bought me a cheap guitar at Northland music center in north St. Louis and set me up with lessons with a teacher named Bill Dennis. Bill was the guitarist in a band called the KXOK-DETS. KXOK was the main rock and roll station in St.Louis long before KSHE came of age.

The first song I learned was - What I Say, by Ray Charles. I lived in a subdivision named Forestwood in Ferguson about 3 miles from Northland music center. Every Saturday, I would walk the rail road tracks and through the woods to get to my guitar lessons. I wore the bottom of my guitar case out on the railroad ties. On my fifth lesson I brought a 45 record of Ike Turner called, Prancin and asked if Bill would teach it to me. He told me he would be happy to teach me the song, but would go me one better. He was a close friend of Ike and would take me to meet him. Ike was rehearsing down the street at the Club Imperial, seeing that rehearsal changed my perception of the electrified guitar forever. If you never got the chance to see the Ike and Tina turner Review let me explain it to you. I was entranced on how Ike would build the sound in the room. Ike would come out with a bass player and a drummer and do an instrumental like Prancin or Hideaway. To fill his sound, he would bring out the keyboard player than the horn section. About at this time, he would hit you with his vocal, when he would come out with the Ikettes and warm you up to queen TINA. Oh my god...what a show!! I don't think there’s anything today that can compare. In my opinion Ike's tainted reputation overshadows the credit he deserves. After all he wrote and recorded the first rock and roll record (ROCKET 88 by JACKIE BRENSTON AND HIS DELTA CATS) produced by SAM PHILLIPS OF SUN RECORDS IN 1954. Anyway, I am honored to have met him as a 13 year old kid, it had made a great musical impression of showmanship that is ingrained in me to today. The other thing that sticks out in my mind that day was that I was in the bathroom at the Club Imperial. Ike’s horn section came in, they lit up a weird cigarette that smelled real funny. That was the defining moment when the 1960s Rock and Roll began for me.      

Rhythm and Blues King: Ray Charles

Notably, Steve's pick for the first Rock and Roll song

Back to the question, what led me to Rock and Roll. I honestly would have to say my dad, Vito Scorfina. I was born in 1949, I grew up in the 50’s when the original wave of Rock and Roll was hitting the scene. On Friday nights, I assume that was payday. My father would always would come home with a box of 45’s. It was like Christmas. There would be Chuck Berry record, a Brenda Lee record, Eddie Cochran record, etc. Thanks dad. =^.^=
Anthony: Can you tell us about the early years in Rock? Pre Pavlov.

The early years The Good Feellin

Psychedelic Steve: The Good Feellin

Steve: Before Pavlov’s Dog, I was in 4 groups that influenced what I became as an Musician/Artist; The Majestics - The Good Feellin- The Spoon River Band and REO Speedwagon. The Majestics is noteworthy because it was my 1st band that I shared with soul singer Michael McDonald and through the years we have remained close friends.

The Majestics (1963): 
Pictured left to right. Michael McDonald, Steve Scorfina, Bob Bortz & Pat Malloy.
This was both my and Mike McDonald's first band.
I was 13 and he was 11. How do you like those Madras surfer shirts?

The Good Feellin was my mid-sixties Psychedelic Band that in our home town was as big as The Beatles. The Spoon River band was an incredible Gospel Funk Rock band led by Michael O’Hara. Michael’s father was a black Baptist minister and I learned how to play that flavor of music by playing in his father’s Church on Sunday mornings. REO Speedwagon was the heaviest rock band that I played with. At the time I had just gotten out of being drafted and was all about stopping the war in Vietnam. When I played with REO they were more like the MC5 than the pop band that they turned out to be. Under protest from their management, I quit the band about 6 months before they got their record deal.

Contains Scorfina's "Gypsy Woman's Passion"

Here's an unreleased song I wrote & recorded in 1969 with REO SPEEDWAGON prior to REO's record deal. It was uncovered in my parents attic just last year on reel to reel. Pictured is an early carnation of REO SPEEDWAGON rocking 60,000 war protesters against the Vietnam War, under The Piccasso in Chicago 1969. Can anyone help me find the TV News clip of the Huntley Brinkley Report of this protest? The news opened up with this headline quote, "This political rock band played across from Mayor Daley's office and gave the Mayor a headache." - I wrote this song when I was 21. I'm blessed to be still rocking at age 63 - STEVE SCORFINA

Anthony: Can you share with us the Pavlov’s Dog story from the man on the inside?

Steve: Here is an interview I did with a European publication:
What are your recollections of life at the Westminster House?

The Westminster House was a stately Victorian Mansion that was located in the Central West End, one of the finest historic neighborhoods in St. Louis, MO. Pavlov’s Dog rented this beautiful old house from the Hirschfield Family. The Hirschfield’s owned and operated one of the oldest antique shops west of the Mississippi River. There were two large rooms left empty for the band to practice in. The rest of the house was filled with artifacts from the glory days of St. Louis. Here is a little Dog story for you. The Westminster House came with a watch dog. He was a large German Shepard named King. He was well trained, and he would make his rounds to make sure that nobody would break in and steal any of Hirschfield’s fine antiques. We had been rehearsing for a couple of months, while at the same time we played at a night club called the Basement at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel. We came home from our engagement at the Basement one night to find someone had broken in to the house and stole some of our PA and recording equipment. The burglars had thrown poisoned meat over the fence to get past our faithful watchdog. I should have known for all through Pavlov’s Dog career, we would have our wealth stolen from us. First, it was local thieves, then our manager, then the lawyers and then the record company. It is amazing to me that we were signed to the largest deal for an unknown group in the history of Rock & Roll, but none of us ever received our just reward or wealth that came from it. You could say that thieves killed King, or you could say thieves killed Pavlov’s Dog.

Pavlov's Dog

On the Pavlov’s Dog website, Rick Stockton mentions that the songs you recorded in Pekin, Illinois represented the band more accurately than the subsequent material which was ‘toned down’ at the behest of record executives. Do you share this opinion?
I agree with Rick on this. Pavlov’s Dog was an amazing band that created a sound like nothing you have ever heard before. We were at our best before we ever had a record deal. I, for one, believe that we should have been left alone to create and produce our music. In my opinion, the producers did nothing but help destroy the essence of Pavlov’s Dog by trying to turn us into something we were not.
Your rehearsals must have been extensive affairs! Did these mostly take place at the Ambassador theatre?
Our manager Ron Powell had a lease on the Ambassador Theater and I remember rehearsing there a couple of times. If I remember, the focus of those rehearsals was polishing off the show and getting it ready to take on tour. The real creative rehearsals were done at the Westminster house and the Carriage house behind my parents’ house, where a lot of the songs were written and arranged.

Who were the biggest influences on you personally and the band in general?

It was all of the different musical influences of the members that made the unique sound that we call Pavlov’s Dog. I will answer this question by talking about myself. My biggest influences were Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Ike Turner and Albert King. If you listen close, you can hear me playing blues and Rock and Roll licks though out the Pavlov’s Dog records.
Doug Rayburn came from a musical family. His father played 1st chair violin with the St. Louis Philharmonic and Doug followed suit with his great ability to orchestrate, hence the incredible mellotron arrangements. If you listen close, you can hear me playing Muddy Water licks under those beautiful string arrangements. 

Dave Hamilton loved to play Gershwin and jazz piano. Once again, under his wonderful jazz keyboards, you can hear me picking out some Chuck Berry or Muddy Waters.

Siegfried Carver (Richard Nadler) was an incredible violinist that had the ability to cut loose and become the best down home fiddle player you’ve ever heard. He would be playing something that sounded like Vivaldi and I would be playing Ike Turner or Steve Cropper.

Mike Safron was, and still is, my favorite rock and roll drummer. Before he played in Pavlov’s Dog, he was one of Chuck Berry’s main drummers. He also played with Bo Diddley and one of the top Soul Bands in St. Louis (The Cecil Davis Revue). It’s easy to see why the Blues and Rock and Roll feels fit so well with him.

More Pavlov's Dog

David Surkamp was a folk singer with a unique high vocal. One of the more haunting vocals he did was on the song, “Theme from Subway Sue”. If you listen close you can hear me play Albert King licks all the way through that song. 

Rick Stockton was as solid as a rock on the base guitar. He was the youngest member of the band. It’s my opinion that he was influenced by the other members of the band and picked up a lot of his feels from Mike Richard and myself.
Pavlov’s Dog was a glorious, unique sound crafted by seven individuals like a good Cajun jambalaya. You have to have all the right ingredients & spices to make it taste good!

What do you recall about the recording of Pampered Menial? 

Pavlov's Dog's first release

It was an amazing experience for me to be signed to the biggest recording deal in the history of Rock and Roll and to be sitting in the world famous CBS Studios where so many legendary artists had recorded. What more could a young musician from North St. Louis ever dream of? I wish I could go back to that moment in time right now.

Were Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman easy to work with, and do you feel that they contributed much to the finished product?

I would prefer to take the high road and just say I didn’t think they were a good fit for Pavlov’s Dog.
Your lead lines sound very melodic and considered: did you work out your solos beforehand, or wing them?
There were many lines that Richard and I worked out as part of the arrangement, but on the other hand, I always had spots for leads that came off the top of my head.

Can you remember what amp rig you were using? The riff in ‘Natchez Trace’, for example, has a lovely crunch.

On Natchez Trace, I played a Gibson ES 345 through a 100 watt Marshall stack. I actually wrote Natchez as a slow funky blues song, but Pavlov’s Dog pushed it almost into the Metal realm. To this day, I believe if the band would have gone in the direction of Natchez and Song Dance, instead of the Folky ballads like Julia, we would have had a much greater success.
Do you recall there being any problems in a live context with Doug’s two Mellotron M400s? Wonderful instruments, but notoriously temperamental, subject to all manner of tuning anomalies etc…
We never had any problem with the Mellotrons. Doug maintained his instruments well.
I’ve heard a number of different versions of this story, but I was wondering if you can shed a definitive light upon the circumstances surrounding the move from ABC Records to CBS?
We were Jay Lasker ‘s (President of ABC Records) pet project. He is the person who went to bat to sign us to ABC. Unfortunately, in the middle of recording Pampered Menial, for political reasons that I can’t explain, he left ABC Records. So at that time, we were left with a record company that didn’t fully believe in us or understand our music. After all, we have a relatively unique sound like no other. At that point, our manager Ron Powell negotiated another contract with CBS. Therefore, our 1st album Pampered Menial was released simultaneously on two labels.

Second Pavlov's Dog release

What do you recall about the recording of At The Sound Of The Bell? This was recorded in the Record Plant in New York and also at Ramport in the UK? Did Murry Krugman and Sandy Pearlman have more bearing on the way this album turned out?

I don’t know if you will want to reprint this. To me, The Sound of the Bell was the biggest disappointment I have ever suffered through. We had come off the road from touring, which was a fantastic experience, only to come into the studio under pressure to produce a follow up album to Pampered, under circumstances that was unforeseen. At this time, the producers laid down parameters about what their vision of the band was. It was NOT what we were made of. One of their stipulations was that we could not use Mike Safron on the drums, for they did not want to work with him. Let me make it clear it had nothing to do with Mike’s ability as a drummer that he got fired. Mike was very passionate about the sound of Pavlov’s Dog and was the driving force behind the creation of the sound. Unfortunately, he was in complete conflict with the visions that Sandy and Murray had for the band. Therefore, we hired Bill Bruford to fill Mike’s shoes. Even though Bruford is a masterful drummer technician, maybe the best in the business, he was not an appropriate fit for Pavlov’s Dog. Krugman & Pearlman had no interest in working with the integrity of the bands music. Another stipulation was that we could not use Sigfried’s or David Hamilton’s material causing them to depart from the band. This was the start of the breakdown of the synergy of the sound of Pavlov’s Dog. By the time we started recording At the Sound of the Bell, Pavlov’s Dog had lost half of the creative genius that landed us the biggest record deal in the history of Rock and Roll.

Whose idea was it to bring Bill Bruford into the picture, and did he integrate well with the rest of the band in the studio?

Bill Bruford: Former King Crimson & YES drummer

Bruford top right.

I believe I answered this question with the answer to the last question. But let me add: We spent a couple of weeks with Mr. Bruford and I must say he was a delightful English Gentleman; he definitely was a pleasure to know. He Came to St. Louis and for 3 or 4 days practiced with us in the Carriage house at my parents home in Ferguson MO. After that, we flew to New York City where we recorded all of the rhythm tracks in less than a week's time. Then we thanked him, paid him, and he packed up and flew back to London. Ironically, looking back, he made more money in those 2 weeks than I made in my whole career in Pavlov's Dog.

The Third Pavlov's Dog pirated release

Given that you had recorded a third album while under contract to CBS, did it come as a shock when the label let you go?

Actually, I was approached by an executive from CBS, off the record, who informed me if we didn’t find a new manager that we would be dropped from the label. At this time, our manager Ron Powell was doing time in prison and the record company was flat-out tired of dealing with him. Unfortunately the band, in its fractured state, didn’t have the ability to come together and make any decisions. We did get dropped.

When you listen back to the albums today, are you still proud of them? Is there anything that you feel you would do differently in retrospect, and are there any songs that particularly stand out for you? 

I will always be proud of my legacy of being a member of Pavlov’s Dog. A song that stands out to me that I feel is extra magical is Episode. I will always remember Pavlov’s Dog as one of my life’s most incredible Episode.

Anthony: After Pavlov’s Dog, where did the Scorfina story go?

Steve: Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll can be really hard on a person. When Pavlov’s Dog was over I found myself physically and mentally broken with all my dreams shattered. It did take a long time to recover from the Pavlov’s Dog experience. But after the demise of the Dog, I partnered with Mike Somerville guitarist of Head East. Wow, was that great collaboration. Mike is still one of my favorite songwriters, not to mention his stellar guitar playing. Also, after Pavlov's Dog, I went to LA. & joined forces with The Buck Bros., David Carron and I replaced John Wieder (the song writer and guitarist from Eric Burton and the Animals). Gulliver was signed with Columbia Records. When I joined the band, David Caron and myself were working on a Sci-fi rock & roll experience/rock opera, called Space Age Hobo. Unfortunately, at the time big record companies were not interested in classic prog rock type bands for the punk & grunge scenes had just come into vogue. Although we recorded demos that were amazing, it never seen the light of day on a Gulliver album. Out of the sessions Alice Cooper covered and charted with the track of  “Clones (We're All)”. Then later The Smashing Pumpkins also released Clones. A major highlight for Gulliver was opening REO Speedwagon on REO's opening night of their Hi-Infidelity tour, the biggest ticket selling tour of 1981. Gulliver later disbanded in 1981. I returned to St. Louis and formed the Somerville Scorfina Project.

Alice Cooper

Clones (We're All)-Alice Cooper

Anthony: Can you share a bit about the personal demons you’ve overcome to retake your place in Music history?

Steve: I have had a hard time with drugs like most musicians that came up in the 60s and 70s, but after a lot of hard work I feel like I have recovered from those demons. In 2010, I was invited to take the stage with my hometown friend Michael McDonald to benefit the National Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. At 63, I am blessed to have one of the best Rock and Roll bands around. Life is good.

Check out footage from the NCADA concert by clicking here

Steve Scorfina & Michael McDonald
Lifelong buddies

Anthony: I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of bands come and go. I mean, for me, groups like Mad River, RAM, and Touch had a unique sound, but they just never caught on with the masses. Pavlov’s Dog almost went that route, but thankfully didn’t. Can you name some of the ones that you think should have made it?

Steve: A group that falls into that category of groups that should have made it was the St. Louis Sheiks which was led my friend Michael O’Hara. Go to youtube and you can check out some of their footage from back in the day.

The Sheiks with Michael O'Hara

 Anthony: Tell us about your band today? How did you go from Rock to the Blues?

Steve: SOUL STEEL, my new band, is a 3 piece power trio with me on guitar & steel guitar & lead vocals, Greg Hulub on vocals & base guitar, Kevin McDonald on drums and Gail Payne supplying lead and backup vocals. SOUL STEEL is Blues infused Rock & Roll, where the Blues crosses over. It’s a sound that is elements of classic rock with blues feels that is fresh and new. It is sounds from my life down the Mississippi from New Orleans through the delta to St. Louis. I have been playing in bands for 50 years and the creativity and chemistry of SOUL STEEL is nothing less than amazing. I have always been a blues guitar player. When you heard me playing other styles it was because of the people the surrounding me.

Steve Scorfina 2010

Anthony: What are the ups and downs of touring today—after years away from the stage scene?
Steve: I really haven’t toured much in the last few years. Mostly I've played special events and night clubs around my home town St. Louis, but I am ready to tour again and I hope that will happen soon.

Anthony: Are you playing any old favorites on the tour? I’m sure the fans are clamoring for some Pavlov’s Dog?

Steve: In SOUL STEEL I am playing two Pavlov’s Dog songs: Natchez Trace and Late November. It is always exciting to see how people respond to the old songs.

Anthony: What’s next for Steve Scorfina? Where does the story go from here?
Steve: I am totally excited about my new band SOUL STEEL. After playing in bands for 50 years, I can confidently say Soul Steel is the best I’ve ever had. Last summer, we recorded 14 tracks in Nashville at Michael McDonald Bingham Bend Studio and since then, we have written a whole new batch of material. My focus is to get back in the Studio and to finish the whole SOUL STEEL catalog.

Anthony: What are the Top Ten Songs that best represent your career to date? Can you tell us a little about each song and its importance to you?

10. My Momma Dressed me like the Mardi Gras: SOUL STEEL-This is a song I dedicate to my Mom

9. SOUL STEEL: The Cat Man (Le Chat Homme). My daughter Angela and I started writing a horror movie about a cross between a vampire and a Ruegaroo that lives in the swamps outside of New Orleans back in the 1860’s. Le chat home was the working title and the Cat Man was part of the music I wrote for the sound track. I'm bringing the party to the people with my new band SOUL STEEL. We will be releasing a song once a month. Bi-monthly, I'll be putting some of my old tunes in rotation available on the web. So stop by my band profile. We just added The Catman (Le Chat Homme) off of our Taste of Soul Steel ep.

8. Tell it to Diane: SOUL STEEL - I love this song; it was written by a singer song writer named Michael Jordan. I acquired his demo after he was killed in a tragic car accident and love playing his song for people.

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7. A Way with Words: SOUL STEEL- My 1st collaboration with Greg Hulub


6. Of Once of Future Kings: Pavlov’s Dog- Is just a cool song.

Of Once and Future Kings

5. Subway Sue: Pavlov’s Dog – My guitar licks on this song open up the record and set the stage for what’s to come. Subway was the 1st Pavlov’s Dog song to get played on the radio.

Theme from Subway Sue

4. Late November: Pavlov’s Dog – I found the inspiration to write this song after hearing Steely Dan on a TV show on New Year’s Eve 1975.

Late November

3. Natchez Trace: Pavlov’s Dog - Is a song everyone knows me for.

Natchez Trace

2. Your Eyes - Somerville-Scorfina Project. Hey Anthony, Here is an interesting song that I recorded with Mike Somerville (Head East) in the Somerville Scorfina Project. The drummer on this track is Tony Saputo. After Tony recorded with us. He moved to Nashville joined Reba McEntire. Unfortunately, we lost Tony in the plane crash in 1991 that killed Reba McEntire's touring band coming from IBM executive gig. McEntire dedicated her sixteenth album, For My Broken Heart, to her deceased road band.

The Sumerville-Scorfina Project

Tony Saputo was an incredible person & drummer. I always get a smile on my face when I hear this song. He will always be remembered. =^.^=

Your Eyes-The Somerville-Scorfina Band

1. Butterfly Band: by The Good Feellin – The first time I ever recorded in a professional studio.


Bonus from Steve Scorfina and SOUL STEEL for Readers of the Servante Darkness Blog:

"Here's a special 4 song bonus for the Servante of Darkness followers. The next 4 songs are from A Taste of Soul Steel ep which have not been released anywhere on the net & only available at my gigs. They will first be heard here on the Servante of Darkness blog - Sounds for the Living!"
Steve Scorfina 

1. Slave to Your Love by Scorfina's SOUL STEEL
Slave to Your Love by Scorfina's SOUL STEEL.mp3 download

2. A Way With Words by Scorfina's SOUL STEEL
A Way With Words by Scorfina's SOUL STEEL.mp3 download

3. A Fine Glass of Wine by Scorfina's SOUL STEEL 
A Fine Glass Of Wine by Scorfina's SOUL STEEL.mp3 download

4. Tell it to Diane by Scorfina's SOUL STEEL

Plus, listen to more SOUL STEEL here: 

Anthony: Thank you for spending some time with us, Steve. You are always welcome. The Man who gave us Alternative Rock, folks: Steve Scorfina.
Steve: Thanks Anthony =^.^=

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Lebo Coven by Stephen Mark Rainey
Reviewed by Anthony Servante

Stephen Mark Rainey 

Author bio

Stephen Mark Rainey is author of the novels BALAK, THE LEBO COVEN, DARK SHADOWS: DREAMS OF THE DARK (with Elizabeth Massie), BLUE DEVIL ISLAND, and THE NIGHTMARE FRONTIER; the short story collections FUGUE DEVIL & OTHER WEIRD HORRORS, THE LAST TRUMPET, LEGENDS OF THE NIGHT, OTHER GODS, and THE GAKI & OTHER HUNGRY SPIRITS; the scripts for three DARK SHADOWS audio dramas (THE PATH OF FATE, CURSE OF THE PHARAOH, and BLOOD DANCE); and over 90 published works of short fiction. For ten years, he edited the award-winning DEATHREALM magazine, and has edited three anthologies (SONG OF CTHULHU, DEATHREALMS, and EVERMORE). Mark lives in Greensboro, NC.

Book summary:

When Matt tried to kill Barry with his car, the two brothers went their separate ways. Barry moved to Atlanta and Matt stayed in the family home in Aiken Mill, Virginia. One day Barry is notified that Matt disappeared. Since he lost his job and his girl, he returns home and is shocked by the damage someone did to his house. Even more perplexing is the word Lebo painted in Matt's room in cow's blood.

The first night he is in the house strange things happen like a glass moving of its own volition; Barry hears strange inhuman noises and the word Lebo starts to glow. Jennifer Brand joins Barry in seeking answers. Since she is a gray mage, she senses the dark forces gathering around Barry and his house. They learn that Matt rented a room to Ren, a practitioner of the dark arts, who intends to invoke a spell that will require a blood sacrifice, preferably Matt's but Barry will do in a pinch. The two Riggs brothers and Jennifer try to stop him.

Book review:

When I chose “The Children of Burma” from LEGENDS OF THE NIGHT by Stephen Mark Rainey for my article on History and Horror, it was because the short story had a lucid, engaging narrative and paid detailed attention to the history of Burma, especially during the Japanese occupation of World War II. As I’ve eagerly awaited the paperback version of BLUE DEVIL ISLAND to arrive in the mail, I got to reading THE LEBO COVEN, “a traditional, family-centered supernatural tale”, as Rainey calls it. So, even though I had (and still do) planned to review the historically based horror novel, Blue Devil Island, I jumped the gun a bit to review the latter work. And I’m glad I did because the book is a huge bit of horror fun.

Just as The Children of Burma engages the reader with the supernatural presence of a Lovecraftian beast, The Lebo Coven entertains us with an occult mystery. Barry Riggs, the hero of our story, has returned home to Aiken Mill, Virginia to solve the disappearance of his brother, Matt. Now the two brothers have had some violent differences, but Barry is drawn to the mystery and seeks to locate his lost brother or at least find out what happened to him.

Barry talks to the town locals, several well-drawn characters, from a childhood girl whom he used to pick on, to the bar patrons who have secrets to hide, and may or not be associated with his brother’s disappearance. But there’s murder afoot as Barry draws out the secrets, and our cast of characters begins to dwindle.

This investigation also leads Barry down dark and dangerous paths. The girl he used to pick on as a child now has witch-like abilities, part clairvoyant, part wiccan. He tangles with a spectre of darkness. Then there’s the equally mysterious Ren, accused of being into Satanism and the house-guest of Matt before his disappearance. These encounters with the various shades of “magick” crescendo into the final battle, which will answer the questions about Matt.

I must mention that the Epilogue is an excellent piece of prose that not only wraps up the story but provides a haunting work of poetry in and of itself. Well done.

Stephen Mark Rainey continues to write top-notch horror, although The Lebo Coven leans more toward scary rather than graphic supernatural thriller. Still, with Rainey, both styles work equally well. I still shudder at the ending of The Children of Burma. So, while you go buy your copy of The Lebo Coven, I’ll go check the mail to see if Blue Devil Island has arrived.